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Below are pictures of some of the more unusual butterflies recorded in Fineshade Wood.  

This is work in progress and if you have pictures that we can add to this page to make a more complete collection we would be delighted.  For example, it would be great to have more pictures or sightings of the five Biodiversity Action Plan Species that have been recorded here.  (Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, White-letter Hairstreak, White Admiral and Small Heath.)

A report of the status of butterflies in Fineshade Wood compiled by County Recorder, Doug Goddard,  in 2016 is available here. 


Green Hairstreak

Chequered Skipper



Fineshade Wood is currently the only place in England where you can see this beautiful little butterfly in early summer. It was re-introduced here by Butterfly Conservation working as part of the Back from the Brink project.  More details here and on the BC website here.

Photos by Dave James and Barrie Galpin

CS male 2021, Dave James.png
Chequered Skipper female.jpg

Clouded Yellow



This is a migrant species, flying here from southern Europe and North Africa. It regularly visits Britain, particularly further south.  There are historical records of it being seen in Fineshade, particularly in  ''Clouded Yellow Years''.

The most recent record was on 27 July 2022 when Andy Simons saw one beside the vehicle track in North Spinney.

Photo by Andy Simons

Clouded Yellow Andy Simons.jpg

Green Hairstreak



Andy Wyldes found this beautiful small butterfly in Westhay wood in May 2020.  It is classed as a rare resident with just a few previous records.

It is usually seen showing the underside of its wings like this but the uppersides of both male and female are in fact brown.


Photo by Andy Wyldes

Green Hairstreak.jpg
DG Fritillary

This butterfly was first seen in Fineshade in June 2018

when Andy Wyldes saw four of these fritillaries in the southern part of the wood. 


Then in July a second and third group of the same species were found over a mile away by Douglas Goddard. This seemed to suggest that the attractive species is colonising the wood for the first time.

Photo by Douglas Goddard

Dark Green Fritillary




Purple Emperor



Purple Emperor in Fineshade Wood

Until recently this species was rare nationally but is now increasing its range year by year.


As far as is known the first records were at Top Lodge in July 2015. It was not recorded again until 2018 and then in 2020 when there were several records in the wood. 


Photos by Barrie Galpin and Niall Rudd

Purple Emperor in Fineshade Wood

Brown Argus


Twelve specimens of this charming butterfly were recorded by Douglas Goddard and Andy Wyldes on 12th August 2015, some in the field on the way up to Top Lodge and some along the main track that leads past the caravan site.


Photos by Roger Eads and Douglas Goddard

Brown Argus. Photo Roger Eads Fineshade Wood
Brown Argus in Fineshade Wood

Chalkhill Blue


On 12th August 2015 this female was recorded near Top Lodge by Douglas Goddard, the Northants County Recorder.  Doug believes that it is the first female to have been seen in the county in modern times


There is a colony at Barnack Hills and Holes and individuals can fly some distance from known colonies

Chalkhill Blue female by Doug Goddard in Fineshade Wood

White-letter Hairstreak



Fineshade Wood White-letter hairstreak
White-letter Hairsteak on Hemp Agrimony in Fineshade Wood

This BAP species has been recorded regularly here since the 1980s.  Indeed, when Dutch Elm Disease was at its height Fineshade was one of only two or three places where it could be found. 


Photos by Douglas Goddard and Barrie Galpin



White letter

Black Hairstreak



One of the rarest and most elusive of the UK's butterflies and until 2018 there were only 2 Fineshade records.


Then, as with many other sites in the area, there was an explosion of records with over a hundred being reported here.

Photo by Douglas Goddard



Fineshade Wood Black Hairstreak
Black Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak



Purple Hairstreak Fineshade Wood

Our commonest hairstreak spending most of its time high in the Oak and Ash canopy.

It is unusual to be able to take photos such as this -especially of one landing on one's finger! Thanks very much indeed Anna Jordan.

Purple Hairstreak

White Admiral



White Admiral in Fineshade Wood Photo: Barrie Galpin

A smattering of sightings of this BAP species.


The one pictured here on the left was in Dumb Bob Spinney in 2014. It was where Forest Holidays' "Retreat" was proposed.


The one on the right was found by Doug Goddard on 21st June 2022.

White Ad
WHITEADML 1710309 (2).JPG

Silver-washed Fritillary



Has become very common in the wood in the last few years.


The photo left by Roger Eads was taken on 1st August 2015 and shows the silver wash on the underside.


The other image is by Peter Scott.

Below is a picture of the rare valezina form, recorded for the first time in Fineshade on 30th July 2017. Photo Roger Eads



Silver washed Fritillary in Fineshade Wood Photo: Roger Eads
Photo: Peter Scott
Fineshade wood valezina

Painted Lady



A migratory species breeding in North Africa.  
In 2015 it seemed to first arrive in Fineshade in late July but it had appeared elsewhere in the country much earlier. See an interactive map of its migration on the Butterfly Conservation website.


Images by Marion Ashby and Roger Eads



Painted Lady in Fineshade Wood Photo: Marion Ashby
Fineshade wood Painted Lady

Small Heath



Another BAP species, there were reasonable numbers on the set-aside field near the railway bridge at Top Lodge in 2015. This species nearly always sits with its wings closed like this but it appears to be a light golden colour as it flew.


Picture by Barrie Galpin.



Small Heath in Fineshade Wood Photo: Barrie Galpin

Marbled White



A specialist of open grassland, this butterfly was first recorded in Fineshade in 2013.


In 2016 it was seen in the recently widened rides in Westhay Wood and also near the Viistor Centre.


Pictures by Kurt Hellwing and Barrie Galpin



Marbled Wite in Fineshade Wood. Photo Kurt Hellwing
Marbled White Fineshade Wood

23 species in one day in 2018...


On 15th July 2018 Douglas Goddard led a guided walk for the Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire branch of Butterfly Conservation. The walk was from the Top Lodge Visitor Centre down the hill to the lorry bay at SP979991 and then back up and into the set-aside field on the right before the railway bridge on the lane to Top Lodge.  The following butterflies were recorded - it was thought to be the longest list ever recorded during any of the branch's field trips.

Large Skipper,

Small Skipper,

Large White,

Small White,

Green-veined White

Brimstone (6),

White-letter Hairstreak (2 in the wood, 1 on the bridge),

Purple Hairstreak (15),

Common Blue (5 in the field),

Brown Argus (12 - in grassy ride by lorry bay and in the field)

Small Copper (1 in the field)

Silver-washed Fritillary (c.40)

Dark Green Fritillary (1 by lorry bay, 2 or 3 in the field)

Purple Emperor (1 overhead at the bridge)

Red Admiral (1)

Comma (1)

Painted Lady (2)

Peacock (6)

Meadow Brown



Speckled Wood (1)

Marbled White (4 in the field)



18 species

... and 24 species in a month in 2017


In July 2017 we decided to try and find as many species as possible during the month. You can read about the month's sightings here.

and the complete list for the month (in alphabetical order) is below


Brown Argus

Clouded Yellow


Common Blue


Green-veined White

Large Skipper

Large White

Marbled White

Meadow Brown

Painted Lady


Purple Hairstreak

Red Admiral


Silver-washed Fritillary

Small/Essex Skipper

Small Heath

Small Tortoiseshell

Small White

White Admiral

Speckled Wood

White-letter Hairstreak



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